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Tuesday 16 August 2016

Caroline Lucas MP Signs Up To Migrant Housing Project's Thousand 4 £1000 Initiative

Caroline Lucas joined hundreds of bighearted revellers for music, poetry, food and dancing in the Space For All Festival at the revamped Rose Hill Tavern. The event marked the launch of Brighton Migrant Solidarity's Thousand 4 £1000 project.

The project is a grassroots community response to destitution and homelessness among forced migrants who find themselves in Brighton. 

The aim of the project is to find 1000 people willing to donate just one pound a month (though the project does accept larger donations). 

That money will then be used to secure homes in Brighton for people who have no practical or legal way of supporting themselves because of their immigration status. 

As project volunteer Mads Ryle said: "What better way to launch an initiative that will take people out of immigration limbo by giving them a home than putting on a Space For All festival?!"
 
Naccom, the No Accommodation Network, estimate that about 6000 people a year in the UK come to the end of asylum process but do not leave the country. 

In most of those cases it is not because they disappear underground, it is because they have no other options.  


Above Video: Refugees Are Welcome Here: National Day Of Action - Brighton

As Jacob Berkson from Thousand 4 £1000 said, "We are currently supporting three people in Brighton who have been here over fifteen years. 

"They literally have nowhere else to go. In one case they were refused asylum because they came without any papers. 

"The Home Office said that there was no proof that they came from a war-torn and unsafe country. 

"Of course, there is no proof that they come from anywhere else, and so they are stuck here in limbo."

Many people who sign up choose to give more than £1 a month, but the project organisers emphasise the value in having many small donations as a way of making the project sustainable, since it has less of an impact if some people are no longer able to give money. 
 
The Rose Hill Tavern is an asset of community value. The pub was given a new lease of life by Kassia Zermon and Jules Arthur when they bought the freehold to run the pub as a community venue, saving it from closure. 

An eclectic line-up of performers on the day included Western Saharan poetry performed by Sam Berkson and Jules Arthur, live swing from Harry"s Tricks, Kurdish folk music from Koma Bênav and tropical party beats from the Afrobass DJs, while The Home Grown Café provided food for all. 

As Kassia put it: "this is exactly why we saved the Rosehill from developers. It is amazing to have a space where we can promote grassroots projects like Thousand 4 £1000". 

Caroline Lucas came to the event to throw her support behind the project and behind the Rose Hill, saying that she was proud to live in and represent the city where people put the community first. 

The Brighton Pavilion MP paid tribute to the numerous Brighton projects, like the Hummingbird, working to support refugees and reject Theresa May"s vision of a "hostile environment" for migrants. Ms Lucas also signed up as a monthly supporter of Thousand 4 £1000.
 
Berkson went on to say that "it is tragic that people are made destitute for the non-crime of crossing the border. The UK's border policies assume that everyone fits into neat boxes, but we do not. 

"It can take decades to sort out your immigration status. In that time you will have nothing. You will not be allowed to work, you will not be entitled to much in the way of state support. The net result is that there are people homeless. 

"We know of several people sleeping rough and loads more on friends" sofas. We have watched these policies destroy people."
 
Another project volunteer, Sally Griffin, said "What I love about this project is that it harnesses the power of the community to make space and find homes for people who fall between the cracks. 

"The uptake has been amazing. We are already halfway to our target and we have only just launched the project. In Brighton & Hove we pride ourselves on being a welcoming and inclusive city. 

"That is borne out in events like Pride and in the phenomenal success in defeating the so-called "March for England". 

"Now we are calling on the wider community here to come together and give a really small amount each month so that we can truly say that this town is a space for all".
 
For more information and to sign-up as a supporter of Thousand4£1000 visit www.thousand41000.org. You can also find Thousand4£1000 and Brighton Migrant Solidarity on Facebook.


by: Mike Cobley


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